PS VR2 owners itching for tense, high-stakes multiplayer gameplay should keep upcoming 4v4 competitive and combative shooter Firewall Ultra on their radar. Developer First Contact Entertainment gave us a first taste of its tactical action in a recent hands-on. First stop: the pre-match safehouse to find our feet and to get to grips with weapon loadouts at its firing range.
Each loadout comes stocked with two weapons, two items, running the gauntlet of full assault to support weaponry and all paired with a choice of two items that walk the line between explosive and defensive. These presets will be fully customizable. With multiple clips spent (and weapons reloaded with a button press) we were promptly deployed into a series of three round matches.
As with the original Firewall Zero Hour, teamwork is still key, with sides switching defender and attacker roles as matches progress. The core experience is retooled with player feedback from Firewall Zero Hour (dedicated servers, new skills, contractors, maps, weapons and more) and gameplay and visuals are rebuilt thanks to PS VR2 features and a switch from Unreal Engine 4 to Unreal Engine 5.
The eyes have it
4v4 competitive matches are still the heart of Firewall. But First Contact has confirmed a PvE mode is also in the works that will be included come launch. More to come on that soon.
PvP matches now play out as best of three rounds, with the PS5 SSD shifting players from safehouse to match map and back again in a near-blink of an eye. Eye-tracking makes weapon selection from an on-screen wheel swift and grants greater precision to your aim when closing one eye or looking down sights, subtly repositioning your gun to mirror exactly where you’re looking.
Flashbangs will blind you if you look at them, but so will flashlights when shone directly in your eyes: in both instances your screen will go all-white for several seconds. Even with your sight restored you’ll briefly have double-vision if your blindness was caused by a flashbang. This, coupled with better hand tracking due to the Sense controller, teases a potentially brilliant strategy: a gun-mounted light’s beam can be hidden by putting your other hand in front of it. Hug a corner and hide your beam until an enemy approaches, then uncover to blind them. Closed eyes or averted gazes are the only deterrent – an inherent risk when bullets can come from any direction.
And even if you’re benched in death before your teammates, you’re not out of the game. Perspective switches to a small number of security cameras stationed around the map which you can freely rotate around. Spot an opposing team member and keep your gaze locked on them: you’ll mark them with a red outline until they move out of sight. It’s an outline that can be seen by your team regardless of how many walls or stairwells are between them.
Loadouts for every occasion
Every weapon has tailored haptic feedback so each feels distinct. A cool little detail (that you may want to check when in the safehouse rather than battle) is in the weapon triggers: the resistance to your virtual finger replicate the real-world analog to the gun you’re holding.
Sharp eyes and quick wits are necessary skills to win matches in Firewall Ultra, but they’re not the only ones. Teams take turns to either defend or hack intel, and with maps ranging from claustrophobic offices with banks of computer desks and labyrinth like oil rigs, knowing the right balance of loadouts and team deployment are key. Known commodities like grenades, flashbangs are a must in an intense firefight, but carefully placed proximity mines and signal modifiers can turn any area into a trap or blind the opposing side’s tracking devices to keep them guessing.
Keep an ear out
Contractors will be a mix of returning faces and new characters, each boasting a unique skill. Couple that with an unlockable secondary skill that be equipped as part of your loadout and you’ve extra customization to your firefight approach.
First Contact is flexing the strength of 3D Audio in Firewall Ultra. More immersive? Of course. But also potentially strategic. Honing in to footfalls helps you place exactly where an enemy is sweeping in from. That goes both ways, however. It grants an eclectic rhythm to rounds, attackers and defenders sneaking along low cover then charging across open ground or piling in as weapons go hot. You’ll need your ear to pick up exactly where a signal jammer is. The small black boxes emitting a tell-tale ping is easy to identify, not so easy to place. With maps dense with detail they can be placed in tight confines. Scouring can be rewarding in itself: Crypto make a return, these rare collectables grabbable on a first come, first serve basis. You can also earn this in-game currency through completing missions, doing well, as well as winning, matches. Collect and cash these in to unlock cosmetics, new guns, attachments for upgrades and new contractors.
Along with those cosmetics and weapon attachments unlocked by players as they progress, First Contact promises a level of post-launch support similar to what the studio rolled out for Firewall Zero Hour. The shape of those things will come into focus in the next few months. But for now, PS VR2 owners can look forward to another round (or three) of tactical action. Bring a friend. Bring three. And make sure they’re all packing quick wits and fast trigger fingers.